Bell Atlantic Takes Step to Increase Bill Payment Locations

Bell Atlantic Takes Step to Increase Bill Payment Locations

Some Agents in Mid-Atlantic May Charge Service Fee
Beginning Dec. 1

November 30, 1998


Paul Miller,

NEW YORK -- Bell Atlantic customers soon will have more locations
where they can pay their phone bills in person.

Starting Dec. 1, new stores and other businesses may begin taking
telephone bill payments. Some businesses will continue to take Bell
Atlantic phone bill payments in person without a charge, but others may
charge customers a small fee. The changes take place in Delaware,
Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.,
but it may be some time before fee-based agents actually appear in some
parts of these states.

Bell Atlantic has conducted a trial of this new payment network for a year
and a half in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.

"The trial showed our customers are enthusiastic about having many more
places to pay their bills," said John Derderian, Bell Atlantic's director for
electronic commerce and payment agents.

He added, though, that the vast majority of customers do not pay in
person. "Some 80 percent of all payments to Bell Atlantic are received
through the mail," he said.

Bell Atlantic expects this split network concept to encourage more
businesses to accept payments from individuals who wish to pay in person.
In the past, the cost of processing payments has discouraged many
businesses that did not want to incur the expense.

"With this program, we're hoping to better serve our customers who want
to pay their bills in person by increasing the number of payment
locations," Derderian said. "We've found that customers like the added
convenience of the 70 fee-based payment agents that have been serving
some of our New England states for over a year now."

Starting Dec. 1, Bell Atlantic payment agents in the five affected states
and the District of Columbia may charge a small fee for processing a bill
payment. The company expects to expand the program to New York in

The new bill-processing fee will compensate businesses and other
providers for handling payments on Bell Atlantic phone bills. Bell Atlantic
will not receive any of the fee.

A wide range of payment locations will continue to offer the service at no
charge, Derderian said. Several factors are used to determine the
minimum number of free agents in a community, including the number of
households and the current volume of in-person payments. Existing agents
who choose to charge a fee must post a sign 60 days in advance to alert
customers of the upcoming change.

Customers can readily find the closest Bell Atlantic payment agent by
calling one of the following toll-free numbers: for Maryland, Virginia,
West Virginia and the District of Columbia -- 800-599-0193; Delaware --
800-906-7791; Pennsylvania -- 800-906-7792.

In addition to paying by mail, customers also have the option of arranging
for an automatic payment each month directly to Bell Atlantic from their
checking account.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and
information industry. With 42 million telephone access lines and eight
million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are
premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market
leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory
information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest
investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations
and investments in 23 countries.